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Land Warfare Studies Centre Working Paper No. 116 Communications Electronic Warfare and the Digitised Battlefield by Michael Frater and Michael Ryan October 2001

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  • Land Warfare Studies Centre

    Working Paper No. 116

    Communications Electronic Warfare and theDigitised Battlefield


    Michael Frater


    Michael Ryan

    October 2001

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    Land Warfare Studies Centre 2001

    This work is copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of study,research, criticism or review (as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968), andwith standard source credit included, no part may be reproduced by any processwithout written permission. Inquiries should be directed to the Director, LandWarfare Studies Centre, Ian Campbell Road, Duntroon ACT 2600.

    National Library of Australia Cataloguing-in-publication Entry

    Frater, Michael, 1965 . Communications electronic warfare and the digitised battlefield.

    ISBN 0 642 29552 2.

    1. Electronics in military engineering. 2. Communications, Military. I. Ryan, Michael. II. Land Warfare Studies Centre (Australia). III. Title. (Series : Working paper (Land Warfare Studies Centre (Australia)) ; no. 116).


    Land Warfare Studies Centre Working Papers

    ISSN 1441-0389

    Working papers produced by the Land Warfare Studies Centre are vehicles forinitiating, encouraging or nurturing professional discussion and debateconcerning the application of land warfare concepts and capabilities to thesecurity of Australia and its interests. Working papers, by their nature, are notintended to be definitive.


    The views expressed are the authors and not necessarily those of the AustralianArmy or the Department of Defence. The Commonwealth of Australia will not belegally responsible in contract, tort or otherwise for any statement made in thispublication.

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    About the Authors

    Dr Michael Frater is an Associate Professor in the School of Electrical Engineering atthe Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA). He has more than ten years experiencein the development of communications systems and services, including videoconferencing and video and image surveillance. He has led ADFA involvement in anumber of collaborative projects, investigating tactical image and videocommunications. Dr Frater has been actively involved in the development ofinternational standards for audiovisual communications and currently chairs the groupwithin the Moving Picture Expert Group (MPEG) concerned with wireless and mobileapplications of this technology. He holds a Bachelors degree in Electrical Engineeringand a Doctor of Philosophy in Systems Engineering. He is the author of a number ofarticles on communications systems and communications services, and is the co-authorof books on tactical communications architectures and electronic warfare. CaptainFrater is also a part-time Army officer in the Royal Australian Signals Corps, currentlyserving with the Army School of Signals.

    Dr Michael Ryan is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Electrical Engineering at ADFA.He has twenty years experience in battlefield communications and information systems.He is a graduate of the Royal Military College, Duntroon; the TelecommunicationsEngineering Management Course (UK); and of the Australian Army Command and StaffCollege. Throughout his military career, he has held a range of regimental and staffappointments. He holds Bachelor, Masters and Doctor of Philosophy degrees inelectrical engineering. Dr Ryan is an internationally recognised expert on battlefieldcommand systems and has studied battlefield communications systems in Australia, theUnited States, and Europe. He is the Editor-in-Chief of the international journal,Journal of Battlefield Technology, the author of a number of articles and a book onbattlefield command systems, and the co-author of books on tactical communicationsarchitectures and electronic warfare. In his capacity as a part-time Army officer,Lieutenant Colonel Ryan is a Senior Research Fellow at the Land Warfare StudiesCentre.

    Land Warfare Studies Centre

    The Australian Army established the Land Warfare Studies Centre (LWSC) in July 1997through the amalgamation of several existing staffs and research elements.

    The charter of the LWSC is to promote the wider understanding and appreciation of landwarfare; provide an institutional focus for applied research into the use of land power bythe Australian Army; and raise the level of professional and intellectual debate within theArmy. The LWSC fulfils these roles through a range of internal reports and externalpublications; a program of conferences, seminars and debates; and contributions to avariety of professional, academic and community fora. Additional information on thecentre may be found on the Internet at http://www.defence.gov.au/lwsc.

    Comment on this working paper is welcome and should be forwarded in writing to:

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    The DirectorLand Warfare Studies CentreIan Campbell RoadDUNTROON ACT 2600Australia

    Telephone: (02) 6265 9548Facsimile: (02) 6265 9888Email: [email protected]

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    ADFA Australian Defence Force AcademyAS autonomous systemC2 command and controlC2W command-and-control warfareCNR combat net radioCOMINT communications intelligenceCOMSEC communications securityCOTS commercial off-the-shelfCSMA carrier-sense multiple accessDF direction findingEA electronic attackEAC Echelons Above CorpsECCM electronic counter-counter measuresECM electronic counter measuresELINT electronic intelligenceEMCON emission controlEMSEC emission securityEOB electronic order of battleEP electronic protectionEPM electronic protection measuresES electronic supportESM electronic support measuresEW electronic warfareGIG global information gridGPS global positioning systemIEW Intelligence and Electronic WarfareIO information operationsIW information warfareJTRS Joint Tactical Radio SystemJV2020 US Joint Vision 2020LWSC Land Warfare Studies CentreMPEG Moving Picture Expert GroupNCW network-centric warfareOPSEC operations securityPCS personal communications systemPSYOPS psychological operationsSIGINT signals intelligenceUAVs uninhabited aerial vehicles

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    Modern land commanders are increasingly dependent oninformation-age systems comprising communications andinformation systems, networks and sensors. While these systemshave the potential to produce significant changes in the conductand character of war, their reliance on the electromagneticspectrum also has the potential to increase their vulnerability tointerdiction by electronic-warfare systems. Of all the changeslikely to occur as a result of the use of information-age systems,the evolution of todays disparate battlefield communicationssystems into a single battlefield network is perhaps the mostsignificant. These networks will both support electronic warfareas well as provide its targets.

    There have been many books and articles describing non-communications electronic warfare, which is electronic warfarein the context of electronic sensor systems, particularly radar.This paper addresses the effect of electronic warfare on thebattlefield communications systems that support the command-and-control process, that is, battlefield communicationsnetworks. This aspect of electronic combat is calledcommunications electronic warfare. Moreover, this paperfocuses on the components and techniques employed at thetactical level of land warfare, that is, at division and below.

    The paper begins by briefly describing the operationalenvironment of the digitised battlefield. The concept ofnetwork-centric warfare is discussed as an example of a doctrinethat is emerging in the United States to harness the power of theinformation revolution for application to land warfare. Thisdoctrine is then examined in the context of the heavy reliancethat networked forms of warfare have on the use of theelectromagnetic spectrum. The information revolution not onlyprovides an improved ability to command and control, but also

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    brings with it a commensurate ability to disrupt the process.

    The emergent concepts of information warfare, informationoperations and command-and-control warfare are thendiscussed to provide a framework within which to consider therole of electronic warfare on the digitised battlefield. Ataxonomy is given for the doctrine of electronic warfare,comprising electronic support, electronic attack and electronicprotection. These components are briefly discussed in thecontext of their targetsthe communications systems thatunderpin the ability of a tactical commander to command andcontrol.

    Finally, the paper addresses the future directions of battlefieldelectronic-warfare systems as tactical communications continueto develop to take advantage of the opportunities offered by theinformation revolution. A key driver of future tactical electronicwarfare will be the evolution of the target tacticalcommunications systems towards a true battlefield network.

    Communications electronic warfare has always played animportant role in land warfare. With digitisation of thebattlefield, the number of targets for electronic warfare willincrease greatly, creating the potential for increased vulnerabilityof tactical communications and information systems. Greaterinvestment is therefore required in offensive and defensiveelectronic warfare equipment, personnel and training.



    Throughout history, technological, political and social advanceshave caused profound shifts in military doctrine, organisation,strategy and tactics. In recent history, six revolutions in militaryaffairs have radically altered the conduct and character of war.The first five were the institution of universal military obligation(the French Revolution of 1789); the Industrial Revolution ofthe mid-19th century; the managerial revolution of the late19th century; the mechanised revolution occurring between 1919and 1939; and the scientific revolution that followed shortlyafterwards, culminating in the production of the atomic bomb.Then, in the early 1970s, the introduction of precision-strikeweapons and computers produced the latest revolutionan information revolution centred on the concept that thedominant factor in war is the ability to collect, analyse,disseminate and act upon battlefield information.1

    These advances in technology have produced an environmenton the modern battlefield that is characterised by continuous 24-hour action; increased volume, lethality, range and precision offire; smaller, more-effective units due to better integration oftechnology; a disjunction between greater dispersion of moremobile, faster units and an increased tendency for combat inbuilt-up areas with congestion of forces in short ranges; and afurther dichotomy between greater invisibility (due to dispersionand speed) and increased risk of detection (due to largernumbers of more-capable battlefield sensors). 1 D. Reimer, Foreword, in War in the Information Age: New

    Challenges for US Security, R. Pfaltzgraff and R. Shultz (eds),Brasseys, Washington, DC, 1997.

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    It has been several hundred years since a commander has hadthe ability to stand on a convenient hilltop and survey thedisposition of friendly and adversary forces. Now, in theInformation Age, the modern commander, with senses enhancedby electronic sensors and modern communications systems, ispromised the ability to stand on an electronic hilltop and onceagain see whatever portion of the battlefield is desired atwhatever detail is appropriate.

    For warfare, the major lesson from the commercial world is that,in the Information Age, conflict will largely be aboutknowledge, and mastery of the network and networkedorganisations will provide major advantage in conflict.However, these concepts can be an anathema to militarycommanders, who tend to see command and information (andeven communications in many armies) following the samehierarchical lines. In a non-hierarchical network model,command and information flow must necessarily diverge.Sensors, commanders and weapon systems are connected via anetworked grid that ensures that situational awareness data canbe shared by all elements, regardless of whether they belong tothe same unit. Command lines need no longer be shared withinformation flow. Information is shared across the network,while command and control is directed in accordance with theorder of battle. Therefore the adoption of these newtechnologies will not only significantly affect the way armies arecommanded and controlled, but will change the way they areorganised and trained. Not all armies, however, will be able (orwill choose) to take advantage of this revolution, and todaysinformation-age army must be prepared to deal with a broadspectrum of threats from agrarian and industrial-age adversaries

  • Working Paper No. 1163

    as well as to threats from information-age foes.2

    There are many books and articles that address the issue ofwarfare in the Information Age.3 This paper focuses on theframework articulated by the US Joint Vision 2020 (JV2020),4

    2 A. Toffler and H. Toffler, War and Anti-War: Survival at the Dawn of

    the 21st Century, Little, Brown and Company, Boston, MA, 1993.3 Further suggested reading on warfare in the Information Age:

    J. Adams, The Next World War, Random House, London, 1998;J. Alexander, Future War: Non-lethal Weapons in Twenty-firstCentury Warfare, St Martins Press, New York, 1999; C. Allard,Command, Control, and The Common Defense, Yale University Press,New Haven, CT, 1990; J. Arquilla and D. Ronfeldt (eds), In AthenasCamp: Preparing for Conflict in the Information Age, RAND, SantaMonica, CA, 1997; A. Campen and D. Dearth, CyberWar 2.0: Mythsand Reality, AFCEA International Press, Fairfax, VA, 1998;C. Bellamy, The Future of Land Warfare, St Martins Press, New York,1987; M. De Landa, War in the Age of Intelligent Machines, ZoneBooks, New York, 1991; A. Gordon, The Rules of the Game: Jutlandand British Naval Command, Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, MD,1996; The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IIS), StrategicSurvey 19951996, Oxford University Press, London, 1996, p. 30; R.Pfaltzgraff and R. Shultz (eds), War in the Information Age: NewChallenges for US Security, Brasseys, Washington, DC, 1997; D.Rooney, V. Kallmeier and G. Stevens, Mission Command andBattlefield Digitisation: Human Sciences Considerations, DERAReport, DERA/CHS/HS3/CR980097/1.0, March 1998; R. Scales,Future Warfare, US Army War College, Carlisle, PA, 1999; A. Tofflerand H. Toffler, War and Anti-War: Survival at the Dawn of the21st Century, Little, Brown and Company, Boston, MA, 1993; andH. Van Trees, C3 Systems Research: A Decade of Progress, inScience of Command and Control: Coping with Complexity,S. E. Johnson and A. H. Levis (eds), AFCEA International Press,Fairfax, VA, 1989.

    4 Director of Strategic Plans and Policy, J5 Strategic Division,Joint Vision 2020, US Government Printing Office, Washington, DC,June 2000.

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    which provides a useful background for our consideration ofelectronic warfare on the digitised battlefield. JV2020 buildsupon the conceptual template established in Joint Vision 2010,and has the goal of transforming US forces to create a force thatis dominant across the full spectrum of military operations.Modern armed-forces must be able to defeat adversaries across awide range of operations, such as conventional warfighting,peace enforcement, peacekeeping, counter-terrorism,humanitarian assistance, and civil support. In this paper, theterm battlefield is used to refer generically to land operationsacross the spectrum.

    A key component of full-spectrum dominance is informationsuperioritythe capability to collect, process and disseminate anuninterrupted flow of information while exploiting or denyingan adversarys ability to do the same. Information superioritycan therefore be defined as that degree of dominance in theinformation domain which permits the conduct of operationswithout effective opposition.5 Superior information is to beconverted to superior knowledge, whichwhen combined withorganisational and doctrinal adaptation, relevant training andexperience, and the proper command-and-control mechanismsand toolsis to achieve decision superiority.

    JV2020 proposes that current capabilities for manoeuvre, strike,logistics and protection will become dominant manoeuvre,precision engagement, focused logistics and full-dimensionalprotection. The following descriptions of these terms are takenfrom the definitions provided in JV2020.6

    5 Joint Publication 1-02, Department of Defense Dictionary of Military

    and Associated Terms, Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Washington,DC, 1994 (as amended to September 2000).

    6 In this paper, US doctrine is used to provide a framework for tworeasons: US doctrine is more comprehensive and integrated than

  • Working Paper No. 1165

    Australian doctrine; and it is unclassified and in the public domain,which expands the audience for this paper. While Australian doctrine isclassified and generally less coherent, it is typically similar to USdoctrine in its scope and intention. The issues raised in this paper aretherefore not invalidated by the use of US doctrine.

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    Dominant manoeuvre is defined as the ability of joint forces togain positional advantage with decisive speed and overwhelmingoperational tempo in the achievement of assigned military tasks.Widely dispersed joint air, land, sea, amphibious, specialoperations and space forces, capable of scaling and massingforce or forces and the effects of fire as required for eithercombat or noncombat operations, will secure advantage acrossthe range of military operations through the application ofinformation, deception, engagement, mobility and counter-mobility capabilities.

    Precision engagement is the ability of joint forces to locate,observe, discern and track objectives or targets; select, organise,and use the correct systems; generate desired effects; assessresults; and re-engage with decisive speed and overwhelmingoperational tempo as required, throughout the full range ofmilitary operations.

    Focused logistics is the ability to provide the joint force with theright personnel, equipment and supplies in the right place, at theright time and in the right quantity, across the full range ofmilitary operations. These focused logistics will be madepossible through real-time, networked information systemsproviding total asset visibility as part of a common relevantoperational picture, effectively linking the operator andlogistician across service and support agencies. Throughtransformational innovations to organisations and processes,focused logistics will provide the joint warfighter with supportfor all functions.

    Full-dimensional protection is the ability of the joint force toprotect its personnel and other assets required to executeassigned tasks decisively. Full-dimensional protection isachieved through the tailored selection and application of multi-layered active and passive measures within the domains of air,

  • Working Paper No. 1167

    land, sea and space and information across the range of militaryoperations with an acceptable level of risk. The dimensions ofprotection range from forward-deployed forces, throughsupporting logistics, tohome commands and supporting space surveillance andcommunications systems. Just one dimension of protection, forexample, is the protection of forces at garrisons and militarybases. Asymmetric terrorist attacks pose a threat that must becountered by layers of defence including active humanintelligence (HUMINT) on terrorist activities, passive monitoringof traffic around the base, alert conditions and procedures fortightening perimeter security, covert intrusion-detection sensors,facility decoys, and levels of physical security access.

    JV2020 also places significant emphasis on informationoperations7 as an essential element of achieving each of theelements of full-spectrum dominance. This topic is revisitedshortly since electronic warfare is an important component ofinformation operations.

    Recognition is also given in JV2020 to the fact that adoption ofinformation technologies is not sufficient to make maximum useof the opportunities made available by the informationrevolution. The vision of JV2020 is to be realised through atransformation of the necessary doctrine, organisation, training,materiel, leadership and education, personnel and facilities.

    Perhaps the most useful elaboration of the impact of informationtechnology is in the emergent concept of network-centricwarfare (NCW). In current platform-centric warfare, the sensingand engaging capability normally resides in the weapon system(shooter), and there is only a limited capability for the weapon 7 Information operations are defined later in the paper as those actions

    taken to affect an adversarys information and information systems whiledefending ones own information and information systems.

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    to engage targets because it can only use the situationalawareness generated by its own sensor. If a weapon is able toengage a target located by a remote sensor, the passage ofweapon data is normally via stovepipe communications systems(that is, they connect the single weapon directly to the singlesensor). By contrast, in network-centric warfare, sensors andshooters are connected by a ubiquitous network through whichweapons can engage targets based on a situational awarenessthat is shared with other platforms. Combat power can thereforebe applied with fewer weapons systems than are currentlyrequired. Note that, just because weapons and sensors areinterconnected, it does not mean that targets can be engagedrandomly or without authority; control is still essential to ensurethat targets are engaged in accordance with the operational plan.

    While there may continue to be a role for direct links fromsensor to shooter, the ultimate aim of NCW is that theemployment of future precision-weapons is designed aroundinformation. No single sensor has the ability to direct theapplication of these precision weaponsdata must be integratedfrom a number of sensors and databases. On the modernbattlefield, the network is a considerable force-multiplier.Commanders tactical plans will not be constrained bycommunications, nor will they be confined to informationcentres (command posts). The information network must beubiquitous across the battlespace and must be fluid, flexible,robust, redundant and real-time; have integrity and security;have access and capacity; and be joint- and coalition-capable.

    Figure 1 illustrates the three interlocking grids of NCW (theinformation grid, the sensor grid, and the engagement grid),and the three major types of participants (sensors, commandelements and shooters). The information grid provides theinfrastructure through which information is received, processed,transported, stored and protected. The sensor grid contains all

  • Working Paper No. 1169

    sensors, whether they are specialised devices mounted onweapon systems, carried by individual soldiers, or embeddedinto equipment. The engagement grid consists of all availableweapon systems that are tasked to create the necessary battlefieldeffect. Proponents of NCW envisage that these three grids willexist in space, in the air, on land, and on and under the sea.

    Figure 1: The grid arrangement of network-centricwarfare8




    Control Informationgrid







    Engagement grid

    Sensor grid

    NCW is not currently a formal part of US doctrine. The conceptdoes, however, have considerable merit philosophically, and it isvery likely that future land warfare will embrace most, if not all,of the above concepts. The employment of a tactical networkbased on wireless, non-nodal communications has the advantagethat armies can disperse as required and then concentrate effectsrapidly at an appropriate time and place. Less reliance isrequired on large information-processing centres, which can bedistributed to increase physical survivability without sacrificingprocessing power.

    8 A. Cebrowski and J. Garstka, Network-Centric Warfare: Its Origins

    and Future, Naval Institute Proceedings, 1997.

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    This section has provided a very brief introduction to theoperational environment of the future. While this section has notconsidered in detail many of the issues associated with thesignificant impact that the information revolution will have onbattlefield weapon systems, the most significant effect for thisdiscussion of electronic warfare will be on the ability of acommander to acquire information, prepare and disseminateplans, and then control their execution. This is the business ofcommand and control, which has become increasinglydependent on reliable communications and effective informationsystems.


    While the Information Age has produced a revolution in militaryoperations that provides great promise of decisive advantage onthe modern battlefield to the commander who can gather andexploit information most effectively, there is a significant darkside to the information revolution. As communications andinformation systems become vital to military and civiliansociety, they can become critical targets in war and can alsoserve as a major means for conducting offensive operations.Consequently, military adoption of information technologycreates a new vulnerability: the same information technologythat provides the fuel for the networks that support moderncommanders also provides one of the major means for theirdestruction. An increased reliance on communications andinformation systems increases this vulnerability. So, whileautomated command-systems increase a commanderssituational awareness, they can also be turned against friendlyforces and used to contribute to their uncertainty.

    It is evident from the preceding discussion that movement

  • Working Paper No. 11611

    through the command and control (C2) cycle9 on the modernbattlefield depends heavily on the use of the electromagneticspectrum, whether for surveillance and target acquisition,passage of information, processing of information or destructionof adversary forces. This reliance is a vulnerability that must beexploited in attacking adversary command-systems while beingprotected in own-force systems. Operations to counter the C2cycle are generically termed information warfare (IW), which isa term that recognises a range of actions taken during conflict toachieve information superiority over an adversary, and may bedefined as:

    Actions taken to achieve information superiority by affecting adversaryinformation, information-based processes, information systems, andcomputer-based networks while defending ones own information,information-based processes, information systems, and computer-basednetworks. 10

    The terminology and techniques of IW are still relatively ill-defined and without universal agreement, although there havebeen a number of comprehensive descriptions of the topic.11

    9 For more detail on the C2 Cycle, see M. Ryan, Battlefield Command

    Systems, Brassey's, London, 2000.10 US Army Field Manual FM100-6, Information Operations, HQ

    Department of the Army, Washington, DC, August 1996.11 Further reading can be found in: US Army Field Manual FM100-6,

    Information Operations, HQ Department of the Army, Washington, DC,August 1996; Joint Publication 3-13, Joint Doctrine for InformationOperations, Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Washington, DC, 1998;Joint Publication 3-13.1, Joint Doctrine for Command and ControlWarfare (C2W), Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Washington, DC,1996; M. Libicki, What is Information Warfare?, Institute for NationalStrategic Studies, National Defense University, Washington, DC, 1996;A. Brosnan, Information OperationsWhat is IO?, Journal ofBattlefield Technology, vol. 4, no. 2, July 2001, pp. 3236; and J.Rothrock, Information Warfare: Time for Some ConstructiveSkepticism?, in J. Arquilla and

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    Again, this paper is not concerned with the detail of IW andrelated concepts, but is focused on those aspects that impact onthe field of electronic warfare.

    The objective of IW is to attain a significant informationadvantage that enables the rapid domination and control of anadversary. The US Army recognises that the current definition ofIW is more narrowly focused on the impact of informationduring actual conflict and has chosen a somewhat broaderapproach to the impact of information on ground operations andhas adopted the term information operations (IO). IO integrateall aspects of information to support and enhance the elementsof fighting power, with the goal of dominating the battlespace atthe right time, at the right place and with the right weapons orresources. IO are defined by FM100-6 as:

    Continuous military operations within the military informationenvironment that enable, enhance, and protect the friendly forcesability to collect, process, and act on information to achieve anadvantage across the full range of military operations; IO includeinteracting with the global information environment and exploiting ordenying an adversarys information and decision capabilities. 12

    JV2020 adds that IO also includes actions taken in a noncombator ambiguous situation to protect ones own information andinformation systems as well as those taken to influence targetinformation and information systems.

    The warfighting application of IW in military operations iscalled command-and-control warfare (C2W). The aim of C2Wis to influence, deny information to, degrade, or destroyadversary C2 capabilities while protecting C2 capabilities

    D. Ronfeldt (eds), In Athenas Camp: Preparing for Conflict in theInformation Age, RAND, Santa Monica, CA, 1997.

    12 US Army Field Manual FM100-6, Information Operations, HQDepartment of the Army, Washington, DC, August 1996.

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    against such actions. C2W therefore comprises two majorbranches: C2-attack andC2-protect. C2W operations integrate and synchronise thecapabilities of psychological operations (PSYOPS), deception,operations security (OPSEC) and electronic warfare (EW).13

    It is the EW component, in particular communications EW, thatis of interest in this paper. Although IW has the potential to havean impact much wider than the tactical environment, thefollowing discussion focuses on the warfighting application ofcommunications EW on the digitised battlefield.

    13 Ibid.

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    Domination of the electromagnetic spectrum is a crucialcomponent of most modern military operations. There are fewbattlefield elements that do not rely on communications andinformation systems. As discussed earlier, the C2 cycle dependsvery heavily on the electromagnetic spectrum to maximise theeffectiveness of surveillance and target acquisition,communications and information systems. If these systems aredestroyed, degraded or deceived, the commander and staff areunable to prosecute war adequately. For example, withoutcommunications on the modern battlefield the commander isdeaf, dumb and blind. Therefore, the capability to conductelectronic combat and dominate the electromagnetic spectrum isnow a recognised component of any modern force structure.

    Electronic Warfare (EW) can be defined as the use of theelectromagnetic spectrum to degrade or destroy an adversary'scombat capability (including degrading or preventing use of theelectromagnetic spectrum as well as degrading the performanceof adversary equipment, personnel and facilities); or to protectfriendly combat capability (including protecting friendly use ofthe electromagnetic spectrum as well as friendly equipment,personnel and facilities that may be vulnerable to attack via theelectromagnetic spectrum).

    The targeting of personnel is beyond the scope of this paper,which is focused on EW conducted against adversarycommunications and information systems. The paper thereforeonly considers EW that is targeted against adversarycommunications, EW and electronics. EW is also onlyconsidered as it is applied in the tactical context of thebattlefield.

    Figure 2 illustrates how EW pervades all aspects of the modernbattlefield and has the potential to have an impact on all

  • Working Paper No. 11615

    elements of the C2 cycle. In summary, EW resources are used tomonitor adversary activities in the electromagnetic spectrum,indicate adversary strength and dispositions, give warning ofadversary intentions, deceive and disrupt sensors and command-and-control processes, and safeguard the friendly use of theelectromagnetic spectrum.

    Figure 2: The potential impact of EW on the C2 cycle





    Surveillance andTarget Acquisition


    EW CommunicationsCommunications

    Although EW is targeted against the technology, the ultimateeffect is on a commanders ability to move through the C2 cycle.The human element of the command system is both thestrongest and weakest link, and can be fairly rapidly enshroudedin the fog of war if supporting communications and informationsystems are disrupted, degraded or deceived.

    The activities of EW are applicable across the whole spectrum ofmilitary operations and are not confined to warfare,conventional or otherwise. In peacetime, armies attempt tointercept, locate and identify the source of a potentialadversarys electronic emissions. Analysis may then reveal

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    details of capabilities as well as vulnerabilities that can be usedto gain an advantage in times of conflict.

    EW is an area of considerable innovation. Inevitably, and oftenvery rapidly, advantages gained by technological or proceduralchange are met with equally effective countermeasures. In orderto maintain the edge in any future conflict, information onfriendly methods of electronic protection and attack must besafeguarded. Therefore, much of the parametric data associatedwith EW capabilities is highly classified. However, theunderlying techniques and relationships can readily be obtainedfrom open-source publications.

    Communications and Non-communications EW

    The field of EW is normally divided into two main areas:communications EW and non-communications EW.Communications EW is almost as old as electroniccommunications itself and, on the battlefield, is mostlyconcerned with communications sources that transmit infrequency bands between HF and SHF. Intercept and analysis oftransmissions is usually more important than measurement oftransmitter characteristics. Non-communications EW has beendeveloped since the early employment of radars in World War IIand is primarily concerned with platform protection, and is inmost cases specifically oriented towards radar systems in theUHF and higher bands. In non-communications EW,measurement of emitter characteristics is central as they are usedto detect the presence of, and possibly identify, an equipmentand/or its performance.

    As an aside, EW is also associated with signals intelligence(SIGINT), which contains two main sub-components:communications intelligence (COMINT) and electronicintelligence (ELINT). To a large extent, these components

  • Working Paper No. 11617

    mirror the functional areas of communications and non-communications EW, but take place in the strategic rather thanthe tactical environment.

    EW in the tactical land environment is mostly concerned withcommunications EW, which is therefore the focus of thispaper.14

    EW Subdivisions

    As shown in Figure 3, there are three fundamental subdivisionswithin EW that are applicable to both communications and non-communications EW, albeit with the different degrees ofemphasis noted earlier.

    Figure 3: Major subdivisions of EW








    Electronic Protection

    14 Readers with interest in non-communications EW are referred to

    F. Neri, Introduction to Electronic Defense Systems, Artech House,Boston, MA, 1991; and D. Schleher, Electronic Warfare in theInformation Age, Artech House, Boston, MA, 1999.

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    Formerly known as electronic protection measures (EPM) orelectronic counter-countermeasures (ECCM), electronicprotection (EP) comprises those actions taken to protectpersonnel, facilities and equipment from any effects of friendlyor adversary employment of EW that degrade, neutralise ordestroy

  • Working Paper No. 11619

    friendly combat capability. While EP is traditionally mostconcerned with protecting communications equipment, it isapplicable to the protection of all systems.15

    EP is usually divided into passive EP and active EP. Passive EPcomprises measures that are not detectable by an adversary, andis concerned with tactics and procedures for providingelectronic protection, including terrain shielding. Active EP,whose measures are detectable by an adversary, is concernedwith providing protection by the use of special equipment orspecial operating modes of equipment.

    One important way in which EP differs from the other EWsubdivisions is that all tactical units should practise it, not just byspecialist EW units. Unlike other aspects of EW, EP is directlyassociated with the tactical communications system. Itstechniques relate to the employment of the tacticalcommunications system or to specific features of the equipmentthat makes up the tactical communications system.

    Electronic Support

    Formerly known as electronic support measures (ESM),electronic support (ES) involves actions undertaken to searchfor, intercept, identify and locate sources of intentional andunintentional radiated electromagnetic energy for the purposesof immediate threat recognition and constructing an electronicorder of battle (EOB). 16 An EOB includes information on the 15 US doctrine for EP is contained in U.S. Army Field Manual FM 24-33,

    Communications Techniques: Electronic Counter-Countermeasures,HQ Department of the Army, Washington, DC, July 1990.

    16 US doctrine on ES is covered in: U.S. Army Field Manual FM 34-1,Intelligence and Electronic Warfare Operations, HQ Department of theArmy, Washington, DC, September 1994; U.S. Army Field Manual FM34-2, Collection Management and Synchronisation Planning, HQDepartment of the Army, Washington, DC, March 1994; U.S. Army Field

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    nature and the deployment of all electromagnetic emittingequipment of a military force, including equipment types,frequencies, modes of operation, locations and other relevantdata. The main functions of ES are to produce operationalintelligence, to provide steerage for electronic attack, and to cuesurveillance and target acquisition resources.

    The major ES activities are:

    Search. Before any other EW processes can be carriedout, it is necessary to search for and classifyelectromagnetic signals of interest.

    Intercept. Once identified in the search process,signals of interest are examined for their technicalcharacteristics, such as bandwidth and modulationtype, as well as their content, which may be monitoredand recorded either by an operator or electronically.

    Locate. The physical location of transmitters isidentified by the direction finding (DF) process, basedon steerage provided by the search process.

    Analyse. The information gained from the other ESprocesses is used to construct an EOB of theadversary, and attempt to infer the adversarycommanders intent.

    Traditionally, each of these processes has been carried outseparately using its own special-purpose equipment. More recenttechnology makes possible the integration of two or more

    Manual FM 3436, Special Operations Forces Intelligence andElectronic Warfare, HQ Department of the Army, Washington, DC,September 1991; U.S. Army Field Manual FM 34-37, Echelons AboveCorps (EAC) Intelligence and Electronic Warfare (IEW) Operations,HQ Department of the Army, Washington, DC, January 1991; and U.S.Army Field Manual FM 34-40-9, Direction Finding Operations, HQDepartment of the Army, Washington, DC, August 1991.

  • Working Paper No. 11621

    processes into a single receiver. The discussion below dealsseparately with each process so as to highlight its specialcharacteristics and because, even if implemented in oneequipment or detachment, there are still four distinct processesinvolved.

    ES may target adversary communications systems, adversaryelectronic-attack systems or adversary electronics. Theelectromagnetic emissions of adversary communications systemsare the primary traditional targets for ES, obtaining informationfor use in targeting and intelligence. Electronic-attack systems,like communications systems, emit electromagnetic radiation thatcan be exploited by ES. The targeting of adversary electronicsother than communications systems is possible with specialisedforms of ES equipment, although only over very short ranges.As a result of the short range, this type of target is accessibleonly on rare occasions.

    As collectors and processors of tactical information about anadversary, ES activities are closely related to other intelligencefunctions. In many cases, ES makes up the bulk (as highas 6080 per cent) of tactical information obtained aboutan adversary.

    Electronic Attack

    Formerly known as electronic countermeasures (ECM),electronic attack (EA), is the division of EW involving the useof electromagnetic energy to attack personnel, facilities orequipment, with the intent of degrading or destroying adversarycombat capability. In a similar manner to indirect fire, EA aimsto minimise the effect of adversary devices that rely on the EM

  • Land Warfare Studies Centre 22


    EA comprises jamming, electronic deception andneutralisation. Jamming aims to impair the effectiveness of theadversarys electronic equipment or systems by degrading thequality of the signal at a receiver. Electronic deception aims toconfuse or mislead the adversary or the adversarys electronicsystems. Neutralisation is the use of electromagnetic energy toeither disrupt or permanently damage adversary communicationsor electronic equipment. The power required for neutralisationis typically many times larger than that required for effectivejamming of a receiver.18

    EA can target adversary communications systems throughjamming, deception and neutralisation; adversary ES throughjamming, deception and neutralisation; and adversaryelectronics, primarily through neutralisation. EA does not existin isolation, but rather as part of a forces fire plan, which inturn is part of the operational plan.

    ES provides a variety of information required for EA, includingfrequencies to be used. While EA is being carried out ES alsoprovides monitoring of the effectiveness of the EA.

    17 US doctrine on EA can be found in U.S. Army Field Manual FM 6-20-

    10, Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures for the Targeting Process,HQ Department of the Army, Washington, DC, May 1996; U.S. ArmyField Manual FM 34-1, Intelligence and Electronic WarfareOperations, HQ Department of the Army, Washington, DC, September1994; and U.S. Army Field Manual FM 34-45, Tactics, Techniques, andProcedures for Electronic Attack, HQ Department of the Army,Washington, DC, June 2000.

    18 M. Frater and M. Ryan, Vulnerability of Digitized Platforms to ModernRF Electromagnetic Weapons, SPIE Aerosense 2000 conference,Orlando, 1820 April 2001.

  • Working Paper No. 11623

    Other Categories of EW

    EW can be categorised as either offensive or defensive. ES andEA tend to be offensive, in that they are targeted towards anadversary and involve the process of searching, intercepting,direction finding (or locating or position fixing), analysing andengaging adversary electronic systems through jamming,deception and neutralisation. Mastery of offensive techniques,capabilities and limitations is vital to the effective conduct ofelectronic combat. EP tends to be more defensive and protectsown-force use of the electromagnetic spectrum against anadversarys offensive EW. EP is the concern of all users ofelectronic equipment and encompasses practices such asemission security (EMSEC) and communications security(COMSEC).

    In turn, EW techniques can be characterised as either passive oractive in nature. Passive activities are not detectable, and can beimplemented and practised in peacetime with limited risk ofcompromise. As active measures are detectable, they should becarefully controlled on the battlefield and only permitted inpeacetime under strict conditions. ES tends to be passive, whileEA is active. EP contains both active and passive measures.

    The diagram in Figure 4 gives an overall view of the interrelatedactivities associated with EW.

  • Land Warfare Studies Centre 24









    EncryptionLPI / LPDAnti-jam


    Alternate means Directional antennas

    Frequency managementIdentical equipment




    Figure 4: Overall view of EW


    In this section, an overview of the architecture of the tacticalcommunications system is presented, followed by a discussionof its vulnerability to EW.

    The Tactical Communications System

    The primary purpose of the tactical communications system is toenable effective command and control by providing effectivecommunications between commanders and their subordinates.Differing requirements for communications dictate that thetactical communications system is not provided as a singlehomogeneous network, but that a variety of differentsubsystems are used. These subsystems are illustrated in Figure

  • Working Paper No. 11625


    At the lower level, combat troops carry a device that must be anetwork node as well as an access terminal. Limited batterypower and the need for small omnidirectional antennas meanthat ranges and capacities are constrained. At the higher level,the large capacities necessary for trunk communications willrequire semi-mobile platforms for the foreseeable future. Largepower requirements must be met by the use of generators, andhigh-gain antennas must be deployed on guyed masts to providereasonable ranges. This variation in requirements has led to thetraditional (and ongoing) subdivision of the tacticalcommunications system into combat net radio (CNR) and trunksubsystems.

    19 M. Ryan and M. Frater, An Architectural Framework for Modern

    Tactical Communications Systems, IEEE Military CommunicationsConference (MILCOM 2000), Los Angeles, 2325 Oct. 2000. See also:M. Frater and M. Ryan, Electronic Warfare for the DigitizedBattlefield, Artech House, Boston, 2001; and M. Ryan and M. Frater, ATactical Communications System for Future Land Warfare, WorkingPaper no. 109, Land Warfare Studies Centre, Duntroon, ACT, March2000.

  • Land Warfare Studies Centre 26


    Public voice and data networksPersonal communications systems (PCS)

    Theatre broadcastSatellite communications systems



    Command elementsManoeuvre elementsLogistics elementsSensorsWeapons platforms

    Information systemsInformation servicesNetwork management

    (Battlefield, joint and combined)



    c co






    Tactical airborne sub-systemTactical airborne sub-system



    Local sub-system

    Combatnet radio


    Combatnet radio




    Figure 5: An architectural framework for the tacticalcommunications system

    The CNR subsystem provides the highly mobile, low-capacity,short-range communications for the command and control ofcombat troops. The trunk subsystem provides much highercapacity and range at higher levels, but at the sacrifice ofmobility.

    The data-handling capacity of the trunk communications systemwill generally be sufficient to cope with the volumes of data

  • Working Paper No. 11627

    required to be transmitted between command posts. The CNRsubsystems ability is severely limited, however, especially sinceit is still required to transmit voice information. An additional,purpose-designed, data distribution system is therefore requiredto provide sufficient capacity to transfer situational awarenessdata across the lower levels of the battlefield. CNR must,however, still be voice- and data-capable to allow organiccommunications of both types within subunits, should they bedeployed individually or beyond the range of the datadistribution subsystem. The additional (albeit limited) datacapacity in the CNR subsystem would also provide an overflowcapability should the tactical data distribution subsystem beunable to meet all the data needs.

    Neither the CNR subsystem nor the trunk communicationssubsystem is able to cover the large ranges required fordispersed operation. The only solution to providing high-capacity, long-range communications is to elevate the antennas.In the extreme, the provision of a satellite-based or an airbornerepeater or switch will greatly increase the ranges betweennetwork nodes.A satellite-based solution is not considered desirable due to itsinability to meet the requirements of a minimum organiccommunications system in most armies (even in those largearmies that could afford integral satellite communications, suchassets are likely to be provided sparingly and are relatively easilyinterdicted). An airborne subsystem is therefore required tosupport long-range operations. In addition, an airborne systemwill increase the capacity of lower-level tactical communicationsby removing the range restriction on high frequencies that canprovide additional capacity from small omnidirectionalantennas.

    By its very nature, a minimum organic tactical communicationssystem will only be able to provide a basic level of service and

  • Land Warfare Studies Centre 28

    must be able to be augmented where possible by overlaidcommunications systems such as the public-telephone network,satellite-based systems, and personal-communications systems.These overlaid systems cannot be guaranteed to be available andcannot therefore be included in the minimum organic system. Ifthey are available, however, great advantage is to be gained fromtheir use.

    In order to simplify the user interface to these subsystems, alocal communications subsystem (most probably containing alevel of switching) is required. This local subsystem could take anumber of forms, from a vehicle harness to a local-area networkaround brigade headquarters.

    Until recently, manual handling was required to pass databetween different subsystems. Most Western armies are takingadvantage of recent advances in networking technology toimplement interfaces that allow the subsystems making up thetactical communications system to be integrated into a singlelogical network. In the foreseeable future, however, it is unlikelythat advances in technology will make possible a singlehomogeneous battlefield network.

    Target Impact

    The various subsystems of the tactical communications systemhave different vulnerabilities to hostile EW and protectionagainst it. These differences arise from different use (forexample, close to an adversary or in rear areas) and fromdifferences in equipment (for example, the use of directionalantennas or provision of EP). Table 1 illustrates the relationshipbetween ES and the adversarys tactical communications system,with the relationship between EA and the adversarys tactical

  • Working Paper No. 11629

    communications system summarised in Table 2.20 Broadlyspeaking, an adversarys CNR subsystem presents the mostattractive target for both ES and EA, due to its use ofomnidirectional antennas and likely close proximity to ES andEA assets.

    Table 1: ES and the tactical communications system

    Tactical communicationssubsystem

    Vulnerabilities Protection

    Trunk Omnidirectional antennas formobile subscriber access

    Directional antennas, longdistance between transmitterand ES facility, line-of-sightfrequencies

    CNR Omnidirectional antennas, shortdistance between transmitterand ES facility, transmissiononly when messages sent

    Low-power, low antennas,terrain screening

    Tactical data distribution Omnidirectional antennas, shortdistance between transmitterand ES facility

    Extensive EP

    Airborne Height, omnidirectionalantennas

    Only downlinks likely to bedetected by tactical EWassets

    Table 2: EA and the tactical communications system

    Tactical communicationssubsystem

    Vulnerabilities Protection

    Trunk High antennas Directional antennas,long distance betweenreceiver and EA

    CNR Omnidirectional antennasShort distance between receiverand EA asset

    Frequency hopping(sometimes), terrain screening

    Tactical data distribution Omnidirectional antennas,short distance between receiverand EA asset

    Heavy use of EP, includingspread spectrum

    20 M. Frater and M. Ryan, Electronic Warfare for the Digitized

    Battlefield, Artech House, Boston, 2001.

  • Land Warfare Studies Centre 30

    Airborne Receivers on uplinks areexposed

    Receivers on downlinks maybe protected from ground-based EA

    It can be expected that the vulnerabilities of communicationssystems to adversary EW will generally remain on the digitisedbattlefield. The evolution to the battlefield network will,however, create additional EW opportunities, which are thesubject of the next section.


    The key change in the nature of EW on a future digitisedbattlefield will be its orientation towards the network, leading toa proliferation of opportunities for EW. While many of the EWtechniques in the future will be the same as the ones currentlyused, the focus will change from being primarily on the physicallayer to focusing on attacks on network security and the securityservices that protect against these attacks. This same networktechnology will also greatly increase the capability of friendlyEW.

    Network Issues

    In the foreseeable future, the most significant change likely tooccur in the targets for EW is the evolution from a collection ofrelated, but separate, communications systems to a network.This network will facilitate the passage of information betweenany two points on the battlefield, as well as between any pointon the battlefield and terminals associated with other networks,such as joint and even multinational systems.

    The motivations for migrating to a network architecture are tomaximise the effectiveness of the passage of information

  • Working Paper No. 11631

    between sensors, command elements and weapon systems.Because of the trade-off between mobility, capacity and range incommunications links, it is unlikely in the near future that thisnetwork can be provided with a single communicationstechnology. In other words, it is unlikely that an evolution of theequipment and protocols associated with the CNR subsystemwill be able to meet all the requirements of the tacticalcommunications system; the same applies to the trunk andtactical data distribution subsystems. Furthermore, there is nosingle technology on the horizon that could replace all of thesesystems.

    While a single homogeneous network is not likely, a singlelogical network is both desirable and achievable using currentand developing technology. The major changes that will occur inthis evolution to a network are seamless integration of allsubsystems, provision of truly mobile networking and the use ofad-hoc network technology. Seamless integration of allsubsystems will enable the passage of information between anytwo points on the battlefield. Mobile networking technologywill allow stations to move at will through the network withoutbeing constrained in their location. Ad-hoc network technologywill allow the network to be self-forming, without the need forlarge numbers of dedicated base-stations throughout the area ofoperations.

    Seamless Integration

    Given the lack of a suitable technology from which to build anhomogeneous tactical communications network, a smoothintegration between a number of subsystems is the only meansof providing a single logical network. While this integration hasnot occurred previously in the tactical communications system, itis becoming increasingly common in commercial systems.Examples include the global telephone network, containing

  • Land Warfare Studies Centre 32

    interfaces both for fixed telephones (both analog and digital)and mobile telephones. The telephone network has also evolvedto carry data as well as voice. Another example is the Internet,whose terminals are connected by a range of interfaces,including high-performance local-area networks providingcapacities of10 Mbit/s or more, cable modems (approximately 0.5 Mbit/s),dial-up modems (up to 56 Kbit/s) and mobile dial-upconnections (up to approximately 10 Kbit/s).

    Practical implementation of a single logical network requires theuse of common protocols and ubiquitous encryption to providesecurity for the network. Given current commercial technology,it is most likely that the majority of information-processingequipment that will operate across future tacticalcommunications systems will be based on ruggedised computersusing the same TCP/IP protocol employed within the Internet.

    An outline view of a typical modern network is illustrated inFigure 6. It is based on a hierarchical structure. Each terminal isconnected to a local network. Each local network is connected toone or more other networks via a router, denoted R in Figure 6.The purpose of the router is to route data between the variouslocal networks. A group of networks and routers forms anautonomous system (AS). In a tactical network, a local networkmay be the internal network of a headquarters, while an AS mayconsist of all the networks and routers in a formation.

  • Working Paper No. 11633

    Network 1.2

    Network 1.3

    Network 1.1Network 2.1

    Network 2.3

    Network 2.2

    AS 1 AS 2




    Figure 6: Outline structure of a TCP/IP network

    One of the advantages of the hierarchical structure shown inFigure 6 is that it minimises the requirement for networkterminals to understand the structure of the network. Terminalsonly need two pieces of knowledge about the network: theidentities of the other terminals attached to their local network(to which they can therefore transmit data directly) and theaddress of the router to which all other traffic should be sent.Routers require knowledge of the next hop to route databetween terminals with their local AS and the identity of therouter that handles traffic destined for outside the AS. Onlythese boundary routers require explicit knowledge of the outsidenetwork, and even here the knowledge required relates only tothe first hop outside the AS.

    Seamless integration will provide the network for network-centric warfare, underwritten by a variety of technologies,including those associated with evolutions of cellular mobiletelephone systems (especially third-generation systems), satellite

  • Land Warfare Studies Centre 34

    technology, network protocols and miniaturisation ofelectronics. The move to network-centric warfare will lead to aproliferation in transmitters, each of which is a potential targetfor ES, and even EA.

    This organic, tactical network will be supported by a range ofoverlaid communications systems, including operational- andstrategic-level military systems. The US global information grid(GIG) is one such concept, aiming to provide seamlessintegration throughout a reliable, assured, cost-effective, globalnetwork. An important means for providing this level ofconnectivity will be the incorporation of multiple layers ofairborne rebroadcast using aircraft, UAVs and satellites.21

    Mobile Networks

    Users in the tactical communications system should be able tomove from one part of the network to another, and receive thesame services in their new location. Depending on theequipment used, this roaming may be provided using a wirelessconnection or require connection to a wired network at the newlocation. Recently developed mobile networking protocolsprovide this service using a forwarding agent (Figure 7). StationB is in its home network in case (a), and roaming in a differentnetwork in case (b). When station B moves from network 1.3 tonetwork 1.2, it changes its address to a value lying in network1.2. One station (labelled F) in network 1.3 acts as a forwardingagent, receiving any data addressed to B and forwarding it to Bat its network 1.2 address. So long as a forwarding agent exists 21 Policy for the GIG is defined in: US Department of Defence Chief

    Information Officer Guidance and Policy Memorandum 10-8460, GIGNetwork Operations, August 24, 2000; US Department of Defence ChiefInformation Officer Guidance and Policy Memorandum 7-8170, GIGInformation Management, August 24, 2000; and US Department ofDefence Chief Information Officer Guidance and Policy Memorandum4-8460, GIG Networks, August 24, 2000.

  • Working Paper No. 11635

    for each local network, stations can roam at will through thenetwork. Mobility is provided at the cost of some double-handling by a forwarding agent of data destined for a roamingstation.

    Network 1.2

    Network 1.3

    Network 1.1



    A B

    Network 1.2

    Network 1.3

    Network 1.1






    (a) (b)

    Figure 7: Mobile networking

    Implementation of mobility, particularly wireless mobility, hasimplications for the management of encryption keys. It will benecessary to provide either a common key for use across thewhole network or to provide mobile users keys for use indifferent parts of the network, imposing difficulty inguaranteeing the security of such widely distributed keys. Theuse of wired network connections may reduce difficulties withsecurity by allowing individual stations to connect to thenetwork without the use of encryption systems.

    In areas exposed to an adversary EA threat, it is likely that thecapacity of wide-area, fully mobile, tactical wirelesscommunications systems, such as CNR or developments on it,will remain limited. There is nonetheless the potential for local-area communications systems, based on technologies such as

  • Land Warfare Studies Centre 36

    Bluetooth,22 to offer high-capacity, mobile communications.These systems may offer ranges of no more than tens of metres,operate in parts of the electromagnetic spectrum that are notregulated (overcoming the need to take spectrum away fromother tactical uses) and offer data rates up to 2 Mbit/s. They arelikely to employ a range of EP techniques, including frequencyhopping,23 to reduce their susceptibility to both natural and man-made interference. The combination of short range and the useof EP will enable communications with very low transmitpowers, maximising battery life.24

    Provision of such a local-area communications system willenable networking of the sensors, weapons and communicationssystems carried by an individual soldier without the weight andinflexibility of connecting cables. It will also enable thenetworking of small groups of soldiers, providing a sectionLAN on which data from sensors and weapons can be shared.

    Ad-hoc Networks

    In current commercial networks the term mobilecommunications means only that the user terminal is mobile.The network itself is very much fixed in place. In a cellular-telephone system, for example, all communications pass from amobile handset to a base-station, which is in turn connected to 22 Specification of the Bluetooth System, Bluetooth SIG, Version 1.1,

    February 2001.23 The implementation of frequency hopping in Bluetooth is designed to

    provide protection against natural or unintentional interference. It is notdesigned to protect against adversary jamming.

    24 D. Farber, Predicting the Unpredictable: Technology and Society, inR. Anderson, The Global Course of the Information Revolution:Technological Trends: Proceedings of an International Conference,CF-157-NIC, RAND, Santa Monica, CA, 2000.

  • Working Paper No. 11637

    the fixed network. In tactical communications systems, not onlyis the user mobile, but the whole network must be able to movewith the force it supports, and adapt its structure to changes inthe disposition of forces as required.

    In an ad-hoc network, stations cooperate to build the networkand communicate using a common wireless channel. Eachstation can communicate directly with one or more of the otherstations in the network, but it is unlikely that any one station cancommunicate directly with all of the other stations. Stations onthe network are therefore required to act as relays. Data iscarried through from source to destination by being passed fromone relay to the next. Each station maintains a list of the stationswith which it can directly communicate. Connectivityinformation is built up and distributed by each station.25

    25 D. Johnson and D. Maltz, Protocols for Adaptive Wireless and Mobile

    Networking, IEEE Personal Communications, vol. 3, no. 1, February1996.

  • Land Warfare Studies Centre 38

    In the example network shown in Figure 8, B can communicatedirectly with A and G. B may send data to E via the path BGE orthe path BACE. Each of these paths would have an associatedcost, which may be as simple as the number of hops involved.B would choose the least-cost path, transmitting the data overthe first hop. The relay station (say G) then transmits the dataover the next hop, with this process continuing until the datareaches its destination.






    B G

    Figure 8: Example of connectivity within an ad-hoc network

    In larger ad-hoc networks, stations may form themselves intoclusters. A small number of stations may then take on the role ofcommunicating between clusters, possibly using highertransmission power to do so. The forming of clusters helps tomaximise frequency reuse and battery life by minimisingtransmission power. In the example in Figure 9, E and F havetaken on the role of inter-cluster communication.

  • Working Paper No. 11639






    B G



    Inter-cluster backbone

    Intra-cluster communications

    Figure 9: Example of clustering in an ad-hoc network

    An ad-hoc network may be integrated with a wider network byone of the stations on the ad-hoc network acting as a gateway.

    The major utility of an ad-hoc network in the tacticalcommunications system is in the way in which the network isformed by the terminals, without the requirement for a specificinfrastructure to be deployed.

    Implications for EW

    The advent of the battlefield network will bring with it a numberof characteristics already found in commercial networks. One ofthe most important of these characteristics in the context of EWis the concept of security services.26 These services are ageneralisation of the use of encryption to protect informationagainst unauthorised access. The security services areconfidentiality, authentication, integrity, non-repudiation,access control and availability.

    26 See, for example, W. Stallings, Network and Internetwork Security, 2nd

    edn, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1995.

  • Land Warfare Studies Centre 40

    Confidentiality. Information transmitted through thenetwork should be available for reading only byauthorised parties. This service is traditionallyprovided in military systems by encryption. Theconfidentiality service may conceal the contents of themessage; the contents of the message and headerinformation, such as the identities of the sender andreceiver; or the very existence of the message, as isprovided by the bulk encryption used in the trunksub-system or by low-probability of intercepttechniques such as spread-spectrum communications(in which case confidentiality can be seen asprotecting the location of the transmitter).27

    Authentication. Each party to an exchange ofinformation across the network should be able toguarantee the identity of the other parties involved.This guarantee applies to both senders and recipientsof information.

    Integrity. Information transmitted though the networkshould be protected against modification by anadversary.

    Non-repudiation. A receipt should be returned to thesender of a message to guarantee that the message hasbeen delivered to the intended recipient, preventingthe recipient from later denying receiving the message.Similarly, the recipient of a message should be sent anattachment to the message that can be used to provethat the message was sent by a particular party. Oneimpact of non-repudiation is to protect against

    27 This definition of confidentiality goes further than would usually be the

    case for a fixed network. It is required, however, to encompassprotection against traffic analysis.

  • Working Paper No. 11641

    counterfeit information being inserted into thenetwork. Non-repudiation cannot exist withoutauthentication.

    Access control. Access to systems connected to thenetwork should be limited to authorised parties.Access control includes physical security, andelectronic measures such as the use of passwords.

    Availability. The capacity of the communicationssystem should be protected, preventing an adversaryfrom degrading system performance.

    Exploitation of an adversarys network, whether by using ES orEA, can be seen as an attack against one or more of thesesecurity services. Possible attacks include interception,modification, fabrication and interruption.

    Interception. An unauthorised party may attempt togain access to data transmitted across the network, orto a portion of this data, such as its externalcharacteristics. Interception is an attack onconfidentiality and possibly also on authentication,and encompasses all of the aspects of ES discussedabove.28

    Modification. Following interception, an unauthorisedparty may modify this data and reinsert it into thenetwork. Modification is an attack against integrity.

    Fabrication. An unauthorised party may insertcounterfeit information into the network. Protectionagainst fabrication is provided by authentication andnon-repudiation.

    28 There is an unfortunate clash of terminology in the use of the term

    interception between ES and that used for network security.

  • Land Warfare Studies Centre 42

    Interruption. Also known as a denial-of-serviceattack, interruption aims to make communicationsunavailable or unusable. It is an attack on availability.

    The taxonomy of these attacks is based on what the attacker istrying to achieve, which means that there is not a simple one-to-one correspondence between the types of attack and the securityservices used to protect against them.

    The division of EW into ES, EA and EP still makes sense in thecontext of the network. They should, however, be seen in thecontext of the security services that they are aiming to degrade orprovide, rather than purely in terms of their relationship to theelectromagnetic spectrum. ES is the means of exploiting anadversarys use of the electromagnetic spectrum using onlypassive systems, that is, receivers. In the language of securityservices, ES involves interception, that is, an attack onconfidentiality (in the broad sense defined above). EA is themeans of exploiting an adversarys use of the electromagneticspectrum using active means, that is, transmitters. Defined interms of the desired outcome on the adversarys network, theseattacks may take the form of modification, fabrication orinterruption. When applied to communications and informationsystems, EP is the provision of security services to protectfriendly capabilities from the effects of friendly EA, andadversary ES and EA.

    The traditional subdivision of ES into search, intercept, DF andanalysis remains valid. Details of the equipment will change toenable, for example, an intercept receiver to monitor digitalnetwork traffic. ES is primarily used as an attack onconfidentiality, whether of the contents of a message, theexternal characteristics of a message or the location from whichit is transmitted.

    Similarly, even though the aims of EP may be reframed in terms

  • Working Paper No. 11643

    of network security services, the basic techniques for providinglow probability of intercept and resistance to jamming will notchange.

    The application of EA in the context of security services and theassociated attacks can be understood in terms of the missiongiven to an EA asset. This mission will include a task (forexample, to jam the adversary command net) and a requiredoutcome (to deny communications). The outcome specified hereis interruption. For example, an outcome in order to force thenet to operate in plain specifies an interruption attack, leavingthe adversary vulnerable to a later interception attack. EA can beused to provide modification, fabrication and interruptionattacks. Jamming and neutralisation are exclusively associatedwith interruption; electronic deception may be associated with allthree.

    The use of wireless-networking protocols creates newvulnerabilities, making interruption possible not only byjamming but deception. Transmitting signals that imitate thetransmissions of an adversarys data communications systems,especially for protocols based on carrier-sense multiple access(CSMA), may trick the adversarys systems into thinking that achannel is active and prevent them from attempting to transmit.Hence, interruption may sometimes be achieved at much lowerpowers than those required for jamming. This opens up a newclass of electronic deception, aimed principally at theadversarys network rather than the adversary commander. Thedetailed coordination of this type of electronic deception isprobably more closely involved with jamming rather than theforces deception plan.

    New vulnerabilities will also be created by the use of ubiquitouswireless networking of sensors and weapon systems, increasingthe potential impact of electronic minefields. These wireless

  • Land Warfare Studies Centre 44

    networks will add an electromagnetic dimension to the signatureof the smallest groupings of soldiers wherever they operate.

    The digitisation of the battlefield will cause the number oftargets available for EW to increase significantly. This increasewill place a greater strain on the already-scarce EW assets,especially on ES. The use of encryption throughout the networkmay reduce the need for interception if the algorithms arestrong. If the algorithms are susceptible to cryptanalysis,network-centric warfare will facilitate the coordination ofcollection and processing or the intercepted traffic.

    Universal encryption will increase the difficulty of obtaininginternal information from intercepted transmissions. The use ofnetwork encryption keys, rather than separate keys forindividual links or nets may, however, introduce newvulnerabilities. The larger the volume of data that is transferredusing a key, the more vulnerable that key is to cryptanalysis. Theinterception of preambles used in the affiliation of mobilestations to networks, and their retransmission in other parts ofthe network, makes possible the use of electronic deception tocarry out interruption attacks. The value of encryption keysstored in captured equipment may also be increased, potentiallyallowing that equipment to be used in a wide range of deceptionattacks. The extensive use of ad-hoc networks potentiallyincreases this vulnerability. One method for overcoming thevulnerabilities created by the use of preambles is to employ analternative means of synchronisation for encryption and spread-spectrum communications. The use of a common timereference, which may be derived from GPS, is one possibility.

    The extensive use of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS)equipment in modern tactical communications systems is also asource of increased vulnerability. Much of this equipment doesnot conform to military standards for EP. Furthermore,

  • Working Paper No. 11645

    commercial wireless-network protocols are not designed tooperate in a hostile electromagnetic environment, and arevulnerable to a variety of attacks, especially interruption. Ingeneral, COTS equipment will be more vulnerable to jamming,deception and neutralisation.

    As well as providing new targets, network-centric warfare willtransform the planning and coordination of EW itself. It willenable better coordination of EA as a fire and will ensure moreeffective use of ES assets. In this context, ES assets are simplysensors and EA assets are weapons platforms.

    Software Radio

    An ideal software radio is a multi-band, multi-mode radio with adynamic capability defined entirely in software in all layers ofthe protocol stack, including the physical layer.29 This ideal radioallows such features as the electromagnetic interface (includingmodulation technique, data rate and channel bandwidth), voicecoding, encryption and network protocols to be reprogrammed,potentially over the air. A simplified architecture for atransmitter that meets this ideal is shown in Figure 10, with acorresponding receiver architecture shown in Figure 11. In thetransmitter, only two functions are performed after the digital-to-analog conversion: up-conversion to the transmissionfrequency and power amplification. Likewise in the receiver,analog processing is used only where it is absolutely required,mostly in the initial RF amplification and in the analog-to-digitalconversion. Practical systems may compromise on softwareprogrammability, most likely because of the limited power ofavailable signal-processing technology.

    29 J. Mitola, Technical Challenges in the Globalisation of Software

    Radio, IEEE Communications Magazine, vol. 37, no. 2, February1999, pp. 8698.

  • Land Warfare Studies Centre 46

    Figure 10: Simplified software radio transmitter architecture






    Figure 11: Simplified software radio receiver architecture






  • Working Paper No. 11647

    The use of software radio technology will see some convergenceof equipment in the various subsystems of the tacticalcommunications system, especially between the trunk and CNRsubsystems. In comparison with the CNR subsystem, however,the trunk subsystem will continue to be characterised by longerranges, favouring the use of elevated, directional antennas andhigher transmit powers, preserving the traditional trade-offbetween capacity, range and mobility. Software radio technologywill be a key enabler of the battlefield communications network,allowing previously separate communications systems tocooperate in forming the network.

    Key Software Radio Technologies

    There are a number of key technologies requiring developmentfor software radio, including antennas, receiver RF processingand down-conversion, analog-to-digital conversion, signal-processing technology and general-purpose processors.

    Antennas. One of the major aims for software radio is theconstruction of multi-band radios. For the tacticalcommunications system, efficient operation across the HF, VHFand UHF bands is desirable, using a single antenna. It is alsodesirable that a single re-configurable antenna be used for thevarious applications, allowing control (exercised by an operatoror automatic controller) over such parameters as directivity andnull-steering. Such antennas are likely to be based on arrays,possibly containing thousands of elements.

    Receiver RF processing and down-conversion. Because little ornone of the selectivity of the software radio is contained in itsRF stage, the requirement for low distortion is greater than thatfor conventional radios, especially for tactical systems that mustoperate in a hostile electromagnetic environment. Any distortionintroduced in this stage will cause leakage of power from one

  • Land Warfare Studies Centre 48

    channel to another, possibly allow a narrow-band jammer to jamsignals in many channels and leave a receiver vulnerable toinadvertent jamming from closely located friendly transmitters.

    Analog-to-digital conversion. The use of software radio systemsin cellular telephone systems has led to a significantimprovement in the speed and precision of analog-to-digitalconverters. Very low distortion and high precision are requiredin analog-to-digital converters in order to avoid leaving softwareradios vulnerable to off-channel jamming. A receivers analogfront-end and its analog-to-digital converter are possibly themost critical parts of the system for operation in a hostileelectromagnetic environment.

    Signal-processing technology. Recent years have seensignificant improvements in the speed and precision of signal-processing hardware, based on field-programmable gate arraysor application-specific integrated circuits, and software, basedon programmable digital signal processors. Further gains arerequired in transmitter and receiver architectures and in thepower of both hardware and software to make a trulyprogrammable radio possible, into which almost completelyarbitrary new waveforms can be introduced via softwareupdates.

    General-purpose processors. To reach their full potential,software radios must implement not only physical-layerprotocols, such as modulation, but complete protocol stacks.Higher layers are best implemented on a high-performance,general-purpose processor.

    The most ambitious tactical software-radio project is the US

  • Working Paper No. 11649

    Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS),30 which aims to develop afamily of software radios based on a common architecture,providing a range of services including voice, video and data,and operating over a frequency range from 2 MHz to 2 GHz.European projects include the Multi-role Multi-band RadioAdvanced Demonstrator Model funded by the German andFrench governments, and the Programmable Digital Radiofunded by the UK Ministry of Defence. Commercial applicationsare also under investigation for third-generation cellulartelephone systems.

    Implications for EW

    Extensive deployment of software radio will create bothopportunities and difficulties for EW. The use of COTSsoftware-radio technology is likely to increase vulnerability tojamming, with cost pressures limiting the quality of the analogfront-ends of receivers and their analog-to-digital converters.The ability to change a transmitters or receivers EP,modulation scheme, data rate and channel bandwidth insoftware will demand corresponding flexibility in ES and EAsystems.

    The flexibility offered by software radio will also reduce the costof some EP techniques, such as frequency hopping and otherspread-spectrum techniques, increasing their use in the tacticalcommunications system. Responsive jammers capable offollowing a hopper will also be much easier to build.

    ES receivers based on software radio will feature high levels offlexibility. They offer the potential for automated search,intercept and DF of short-term and fast-changing signals, such

    30 Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) Joint Program Office, Software

    Communications Architecture Specification MSRC-5000SCA,Version 2.0, December 2000.

  • Land Warfare Studies Centre 50

    as those generated using EP techniques, including frequency-hopping and burst transmission.


    Although the promise of command and control in theInformation Age may stop short of completely dissipating thefog of war, it has significant potential to improve acommanders awareness, to achieve spans of control that can bemeasured in global terms, and to mass collective combat powerwithout massing forces.31 The enduring lesson from recentconflicts since the Gulf War is that what can be seen can be hit,and what can be hit can be killed. The function of seeing isnow much more sophisticated and entails electronic, optical andacoustic sensors that can have up to global coverage. Thesesensors can be linked in real time to computer-controlledweapon systems with unparalleled accuracy and lethality.However, such qualities are not enough. The decisive advantageon the modern battlefield will go to the commander who cangather and exploit information most effectively. While this isgreatly assisted by the technologies associated with theinformation revolution, the human element is arguably the mostsignificant.

    As a result of the information revolution, future commanderscan have unparalleled information available to them; they will beable to see the full extent of the battlefield even if it spans theglobe. Commanders will not have it all their own way, however.Future command-and-control systems will be heavily reliant oncommunications and information systems that cannot operate ifaccess to the electromagnetic spectrum is denied. So, while theinformation revolution promises to deliver an enormous

    31 C. Allard, Command, Control, and the Common Defense, Yale

    University Press, New Haven, CT, 1990, p. 263.

  • Working Paper No. 11651

    improvement in capability to commanders, it also creates thepotential for new vulnerabilities. These new vulnerabilities offernew opportunities for the application of electronic warfare onthe digitised battlefield. Greater investment is therefore requiredin offensive and defensive EW equipment, personnel andtraining. As armies expend large sums of money seeking toattain the advantages of digitisation, consideration must be givento the flipside of the information revolutionthe increased roleof electronic warfare on the modern digitised battlefield.Arguably, for every dollar that is spent on battlefieldcommunications and information systems, one dollar should bespent on the EW capabilities required to protect these systemsand to target an adversarys systems.